What would you do with this B-3?

Discussion in 'Vintage' started by Spitfireace, May 25, 2018.

  1. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Just got this Aero B-3 seems like a solid start. No major damage, just the usual wear and tear.
     

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  2. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,785
    Not sure what the jacket looks like........but hey .. the label is a sure fired keeper!!
     
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  3. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Well-Known Member

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    2,407
    uh, did a jacket come with the label?
     
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  4. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Yup, actually what I was getting at is that I'm going to need to repair the cuffs because they have tears in them. Not sure yet what the best repair would entail, if sewing or gluing is better. I should be getting it in the mail mid-week next week. I'll post some more detailed pics, but until then this is what I have. Looks like it'll need a new zipper too, but that's the easy part. Otherwise it seems pretty solid. 50344.jpg 50344a.jpg 50344b.jpg
     
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  5. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,785
    Ok .... this is my opinion, some may disagree.
    When you receive the jacket assess its overall condition. Sheepskin from this period of time can be very fragile with hidden damage and flaws. Once you finish your assessment you will know if your jacket can be worn on a limited basis. I say limited because, it’s not a good idea to wear any WWII sheepskin jacket on anything other than an ocassional basis. If that’s not going to be an option then I would leave the jacket alone and hang on to it as a keepsake or display piece. Keeping the jacket in its original condition will help maintain its value.
    Once again ....just my opinion.
     
  6. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thanks for that. I did notice that the neck straps have been removed either in service or after. I seem to recall that this is something that is fairly common in these jackets. Here's the sellers description:
    "An original WW2 US Flying jacket which is strong and could be worn in you so choose. This B3 is well tagged and made by the famous Aero Leather Clothing Company. This example has been treated with leather conditioner at some point so, the leather is supple and strong. The sheepskin is complete and not dry rotted or mothed! The jacket has a couple of minor issues. The original zipper is broken and would need to be replaced if you wished to wear it (I personally would leave it alone on display). There is wear along both cuffs with rips (see the pics). Perhaps the nicest feature of this jacket is that it retains an original thater made Bullion CBI patch (China/Burma/India) on the right shoulder. The left shoulder has four Newey hook snaps sewn on so that a second patch or blood chit could be snapped on and off (it is missing)."
     
  7. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,785
    Got it .
    Once again sheepskin from this period is often very fragile with hidden damage. If the guy is telling you he would leave it alone....there’s probably a reason. However , once you get the jacket and check it out ....closely.... you’ll know what to do with it. It’s a great piece with the CBI patch.
     
  8. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Yup, can't wait to check it out. I realize that these jackets are usually pretty fragile. Even the most robust shouldn't really be worn on any kind of regular basis as they are more museum pieces than wearable jackets. I have an original A-2 that I bought back in 2005, and I bought it for a reasonable price, so I thought maybe I could wear it like a usual jacket. I soon changed my mind on that, because although it's in pretty good shape, these jackets should be preserved as much as possible as historical artifacts. That's why I bought a repro A-2 and wear that instead. I bought the B-3 for a very reasonable price from a guy that has an online militaria business not too far from me and when I spotted it, I just could not pass it up. I see on e-bay that obviously completely trashed B-3s are going for twice as much as this jacket cost me. So maybe I'll be able to wear it once in a while. A new repro Aero B-3 is going for $1300/$1400 dollars CDN these days and an Eastman even more, so I'm not going to be in the market for the foreseeable future. Maybe I'll be able to make a trade or something using the original B-3 for a repro. I kind of prefer having jackets I can wear rather than ones that just sit in the closet (or under the bed, I know you shouldn't hang a B-3 on a hanger). That being said I'm not sure how much use I would get out of a repro B-3 anyhow as they are sort of a limited use jacket because of their bulk etc. Nothing like having an original jacket though.
     
  9. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,233
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    I have original B-3s in really good shape but would never wear one - just not worth the risk. I do have an Eastman B-3 I occasionally wear that was torn to bits at one point(story of an angry wife) and patched back together by another member here. I machine stitched a few tapes and replaced a back panel. Plenty robust but not a very practical wearer jacket IMO and original air crews agreed. Also, cool as they are, it screams a little too loudly for my tastes.
    Dave
     
  10. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Just got the B-3 and here's some pics. It's pretty much as I expected except for the tear in the right shoulder which was not mentioned. So I could sew that up and do a good job I think. Would doing that hurt it's value? I mean if you wanted to you could always take out the hand stitching, I wouldn't think it hurts it really, and adds strength to it so that it won't tear more. Other than that the zipper needs replacement which could be done and the leather just has mainly finish worn off in a few spots but is pretty good. I don't know what you would do with the cuff tears. A professional may need to look at that. 016.jpg 017.jpg 019.jpg 020.jpg 021.jpg 022.jpg
     
  11. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,233
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    It's only my opinion but that would be quite a fragile wearer. Rot has affected the hide as well as much of the stitching and zip. Appears that it might have been cleaned up and oiled for resale. Based on that, the torn shoulder, and the blow outs on the sleeves and back(appears to be a hole but can't tell), you can't hurt it with repairs. As a collectable, it would be avoided by most for those problems just as it would be for any repairs you do. I don't think I'd attempt to replace the zip as the rest of the jacket doesn't warrant that IMO.
    If you stitch the shoulder and it fails you can then add a HH patch as might have been done back then. Once these start to go they don't return.
    I hate to be so critical and I hope others chime in and that I'm wrong(and that you get it to where you are happy with it) but it's just what I've personally seen.
    I kinda wish you could have had the better pics you took for us to see ahead of time but such is a "for sale" item.
    Best,
    Dave
     
  12. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,233
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Also, as this becomes a rant, I would be quite irritated that the seller obviously hid the commonly torn shoulder and the condition of the stitching. Anytime you have multiple, random areas of missing cotton thread there's a reason, typically dry rot. The rest of the jacket has had the same exposure and isn't far behind. This type of damage is hidden when close up shots are not shown. It did photograph for the seller much better than it's actual state, IMO.
    Did he describe this as, "good shape considering it's age"?
    Dave
     
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  13. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,785
    Once again this is my opinion ... and others may disagree. You’ve done your assessment as I suggested earlier in this thread. Now the only decision you have to make is .......can it be successfully repaired and do I keep it or .......is this too far gone and do I return it and hopefully recoup my investment. See .......that’s how easy it is.. Good Luck with your decision whichever way you go....
     
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  14. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Well as they say "you get what you pay for" that is if you know what you are paying for. Here's a B-3 that I would prefer http://www.goodwearleather.com/pages/sale_b3_0004.html You don't see too many B-3s in this kind of condition. It seems to me that a lot of these jackets require some work, it's just a matter of how much and is it worth it? Since I only paid about $300.00 CDN I figured I wasn't losing much. I am irritated that the seller did not mention the shoulder tear, because that makes a difference, but at that price it's hard to complain. That being said if I want a professional repair of that it's gonna cost quite a bit more to fix if I go that route (I guess panel replacement is the only repair for that). The only holes are the right shoulder and the cuffs. It's too bad I don't know someone locally to be able to make an in person assessment of repairs and whether it be worth it. Having to send things in the post to the UK or maybe US makes it that much more expensive. Anyways it is what it is. Thanks for the feedback.
     
  15. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

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    2,223
    Location:
    Norway
    As others have said I too would be very wary of wearing or using that. WWII US sheepskin flying jackets are notorious for getting super delicate with age and fall apart at the drop of a hat. Strangely enough original RAF Irvins are far more robust and have fared much better than their American counterparts. I can remember having a discussion about this here or at the hat place about a decade ago and there was the idea that this could be down to the difference in tanning between the US and British sheepskins.

    You could get this restored but it'll cost a bit to do so and if it's not going to worn then there's no real point. If it was me I'd keep it for display and leave it as is. Keep it out of the sun and away from any humidity.
     
  16. dmar836

    dmar836 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,233
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    I remember that conversation. I think it was here. Dr H is a wealth of knowledge about leather production and treatment. I called a recommended dealer in NYC when I first started collection in the mid-90s. He was very hesitant to quote a price for a B-3. I didn't get a good vibe as he kept saying, "It depends on what you want to spend..." and kept saying that you could walk out the next day and it could be on the floor in pieces regardless of what you spend. I have not found that to be true in well preserved examples but it is true of those not protected or put on hangars for years.
    It's tricky but I'd bet you could get into a fair wearer for around the $600 mark. I paid around $900 for one and maybe $800 for another several years back. I think the market for collectable B-3s has softened a bit. The lower end of all the collectable stuff will always remain low end.
    My first instinct would be to return it out of principle. It's still sellable to another but you should not feel obligated to be stuck with it unless you value it. That cash could go towards a better one - or at least one that you could resell more easily. Second would be to leave it as a display item(on a bust with a Mae West that would cover the zip). If you don't collect for display then not sure.
    As I mentioned it did look every bit worth $230USD in the sellers pics.
    Dave
     
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  17. Tom Bowers

    Tom Bowers Member

    Messages:
    50
    Jacket is falling apart. The best part is the (apparently original) bullion CBI patch which is probably worth a fair bit on it's own

    B-3s in this condition will only continue to fail and fall apart. The losses of finish and dry rot on the stitching will only get worse...fast

    Any attempt to stitch the shoulder will only see the stitches pull right through the weak sheepskin and probably make things worse

    I'd send it back, save your money and buy one of the good repro B-3s on the market

    Tom Bowers
     
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  18. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Ya, I think you might just have convinced me that I shouldn't have to put up with this. It's not as described, that is, he conveniently left the shoulder rip out of the description, so I feel that may be deliberate as all the other defects were detailed. He did say if the buyer wanted more pictures, to contact him, but based on the way his pictures were laid out the rip was hidden so I didn't think that more pictures were needed. I think he was overly optimistic on the leather condition. He said it was conditioned which is true but some of it was over conditioned, and conditioning won't save the shearling/fleece part of it. It's in ok shape for a display piece but the work involved to make it more than that would be way more than the jacket is worth. So I think he might have been overly optimistic about saying that one could wear it. As you say I shouldn't feel obligated to be stuck with it based on the fact that the description was lacking in the first place. I know it's buyer beware, but not mentioning something in a written description that is an obvious bad defect looks like deliberate deception to me. Maybe the seller is just hoping the person who buys it won't take the trouble to send it back and will just let it slide. He's probably being trying to find someone who will take this on for years now, and I don't think I should be the one who is now saddled with that responsibility if I am not happy with it just as a display piece.

    Hugh
     
  19. Southoftheborder

    Southoftheborder Member

    Messages:
    43
    Did it come from eBay? If so it's a no brainer to return it and he has to take it back since the defect was hidden. If from somewhere else it might not be so easy.
     
  20. Spitfireace

    Spitfireace Active Member

    Messages:
    148
    Location:
    Vancouver
    No it's from a local militaria dealer. That is local in a distance from me but still in the not too far realm. I was going to see him actually, because I was in the neighbourhood, but he is getting deployed by the army to go to Australia as it turns out so he won't be around for the next while. So that's why I bought the jacket because I was thinking it was going to get snapped up. Haven't heard from the email. He has a 7 day return policy if the item is not altered or damaged. So I emailed him and said I think it was not as described and I'm returning it. I think he's Australia though as so he's said. So it's kinda convenient. Meanwhile I'll sell it. Or trade maybe.

    Hugh
     

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